Yes. Yes I am. I am suggesting this whole series as is, rather than writing up four separate reviews (I do have four reviews on my GR acct — > Nina (Words and Water) ) because this WHOLE series has had me up in angst knots for the past couple of weeks. If I hadn’t been purposefully dragging out each reading session just so that it wouldn’t have ended so soon, I would have gobbled up each book immediately, one per day.
First Off. This series is amazing. It fully deserves its 5 Stars. But my rating will be 4.8 Stars.
Thank you Sam! for recommending me this series. Seriously, you hit the nail on the head!
Check out Sam’s blog, over at A History of Books!
W H A T I L O V E D:
What I love about this series is that it’s pretty original! Granted it was really hard for me to move onto a new series since right before this, I was on a Star Wars high, and I still kind of am! So I ended up drawing a lot of parallels between Star Wars and the Lunar Chronicles, which, is by no means a bad thing. For while they are similar, they are so very different, and two very different series! Here’s a quick list of what to love about this series in case it’s too much of a pain to read through his whole page 😛 –
- The Action – heck yes, plenty of things happening!
- The Romance – there are romances! And the good thing is, is that it doesn’t take over the plot, nor are the main problems at hand forgotten either. There’s a good balance of both. Not instalove. Plenty of development. And SURPRISE though we satisfactory endings at each book, it’s not perfect – their relationships spill over and continue to develop in the next installment
- Political tension – on a basic but well developed YA level. So it’s acceptable and I found little fault with it.
- Tension in general – because it deals with cyborgs, shells, Lunars, there’s a lot of tension and discrimination going on, so your characters do suffer and be strong!
- Diverse characters – in personality, and also character!
- If you love Star Wars, and looking for a similar YA story to go with hat craze, then pick this up. Yes. Pick it up now!
T H E P L O T
The whole series is centred on avoiding an alliance with Queen Levana and Luna. It involves a lost Princess whom Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, and Winter (the titular characters) all assist at one point or another along with their love interests, into regaining the throne of Luna. There is a servant girl (of sorts), a lost princess, a farm girl, a wolf thing, a hacker rapunzel, a scoundrel (of sorts), a Prince, a guard, crazy doctor, bioelectricity, a horrid Stepmother, a bitchy older stepsister, and a nicer younger stepsister. In addition, Meyer throws us cyborgs, a plague, aliens from the moon (well sort of aliens), an Evil Queen, the most adorable little android that certainly belongs on my list of favourite fictional androids (R2D2 is no. 1 and BB-8 is no.2), and a futuristic world.
Each installment of the series is a re-envisioning of a classic fairytale set in this futuristic world. As you may have guessed except for winter, these tales are: Cinderella, Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel, and Snow White. But this retelling is nothing like the original fairy tales.
Each story is carefully interwoven with only elements of the original fairy tales, into the greater plot regarding a princess, a throne, and a conflict between Earth and the Moon. There is also biowarfare threatening to kill all Earthens, and an Evil Queen who happens to have the antidote in exchange for being an Empress on Earth.
Classic revolutionary story. Classic villain story. Classic fantasy story! And also, probably classic hero story too.
I think that Marissa Meyer is perhaps one of my favourite YA Fantasy (Sci-fi) novelists right now. Since she did a brilliant job with the Lunar Chronicles, that, right about now, I’m having a hard time finding anything else to match it.
“Imagine there was a cure, but finding it would cost you everything. It would completely ruin your life. What would you do?”
C H A R A C T E R S
The main protagonist in Cinder is of course, Cinder. Now, I feel like whoever wrote her, gave her the personality of a Cancer. She has the most ridiculous mood swings. One moment she’s upset, the next she’s raging on someone’s arse, the next, she’s all demure and saying no to the Prince. In truth, I wasn’t all too happy or satisfied with Cinder’s personality, and didn’t like her very much to begin with (NOW while reading Scarlet, I seem to really like her personality!) But she did grow on me. And the ending of Cinder cemented her personality in my head a bit more, gave the girl a little bit more ground for her swinging moods. And I guess it was that one epic ‘Noooooo’ scene at the end of Cinder that really swung her back to my list of okay-maybe-I-do-like-this-character list. And no, I’m not going to tell you what ‘Noooooo’ is referring to. Go read it yourself and be wowed by it. Since truly, that scene has made it to my list of Top Favourite Epic Moments in YA Fantasy Fiction. As a Cyborg, with a metal leg and hand, Cinder is a very pitiful character in the story, like I usually think Cinderella is (though Cinderella is usually more cheerful, good and kind about cleaning and working, whereas Cinder is simply humble, but not afraid to rebel against her stepmum), but as things unravel, and she meets Kai, Cinder grows. Now I didn’t really like Cinder much in the first book, but she grew on me for the others, and I liked her a lot more. There’s a reason why I didn’t like her, but that’s explained in the book, which makes her more relatable in the others!
“I don’t know. I don’t actually remember anything from before the surgery.”
His eyebrows rose, his blue eyes sucking in all the light of the room. “The cybernetic opetation?”
“No, the sex change.”
The doctor’s smile faltered.
Prince Kaito is the love interest. Setting aside all else, let’s gush over Prince Kai for the moment. As a young prince, he’s the best. I LOVE HIM as a love interest. He’s cute, and he’s nice. He’s the kind of cool guy combination without the asshole part. Or the broody part (he does brood a bit, but he isn’t the typically brooder, since he is a prince and his father is dying). Kai is the nice kind of love interest. He takes an interest in Cinder, and is polite to her. But the thing is, he doesn’t know she’s a cyborg. Kai really develops in Winter, but it was a bit of a struggle to watch him deal with politics during Scarlet and Cress.
“…but I’m trying to be inconspicuous.”
Cinder considered telling him it wasn’t working but thought better of it. The lack of a throng of screaming girls surrounding her booth was probably evidence that it was working better than she suspected. Instead of looking like a royal heartthrob, he just looked crazy.
Scarlet — I actually really liked Scarlet. She’s pretty out there like Cinder, action first then think later, but unlike Cinder who’s more prone to blaming herself, Scarlet is a little firecracker. She’s definitely true to the stereotypical red head, all hot and fiery, and not afraid at all. Yet, she is also very grounded in the fact that there are some events beyond her abilities and she should be scared. And so there are a few screamy moments, but never once, not once does Scarlet really let it get to her. She bites back even when she’s scared, but she never does anything stupid. When she knows she’s helpless against her enemy, she holds back and waits-ish.
“She sighed, annoyed at her restlessness. “So,” she said, disrupting Wolf in another backward glance.
“Who would win in a fight—you or a pack of wolves?”
He frowned at her, all seriousness. “Depends,” he said, slowly, like he was trying to figure out her motive for asking. “How big is the pack?”
“I don’t know, what’s normal? Six?”
“I could win against six,” he said. “Any more than that and it could be a close call.”
Scarlet smirked. “You’re not in danger of low self-esteem, at least.”
“What do you mean?”
“Nothing at all.” She kicked a stone from their path. “How about you and … a lion?”
“A cat? Don’t insult me.”
She laughed, the sound sharp and surprising. “How about a bear?”
“Why, do you see one out there?”
“Not yet, but I want to be prepared in case I have to rescue you.”
The smile she’d been waiting for warmed his face, a glint of white teeth flashing. “I’m not sure. I’ve never had to fight a bear before.”
Omg Wolf. You know I knew he was shifty from the start. Isn’t the Wolf always shifty? But man, when the twist came out, it definitely was not what I expected. If I expected one thing about his character, that wasn’t it. And I was shocked! Wolf has replaced Kai on my list of awesome male characters in the Lunar Chronicles. But really, I think after reading Cress, my list is going to change again. I suppose it can’t be helped, not with the way Meyer works her romances, her plot, and her characters! Wolf throughout the remaining books becomes very protective of Scarlet, and just when I thought he would be under the Thaumaturges’ control again, he actually surprised me!
“Don’t come any closer!” Scarlet yelled. The chicken clucked and dawdled away. “I will shoot, you know.”
“I know.” A flicker of kindness passed over him and he pointed at his temple. “You’ll want to aim for the head. That usually makes for a fatal shot. Or, if you’re feeling shaky, the torso. It’s a larger target.”
“Your head looks pretty big from here.”
Cress is an absolute darling. What I love about her, and all the other character’s in Meyer’s book is that she is both a weak and strong character. She has clearly defined weaknesses and strengths. Just like Cinder. Just like Scarlet. It might seem very narrow, but I think I like this kind of characterisation better than what other books sometimes do–which is create a female protagonist is so mary sue it makes me want to punch them. None of the heroines of the Lunar Chronicles are like that though, and it’s WONDERFUL. Cress is, as I said, an absolute darling. Trapped in a satellite, a pawn of the Queen, via the Thaumaturge Sybil Mira, for seven years, she has been their secret hacker, programmer, eyes in the sky, gifted with knowing everything there is to know about everyone and everything, except being properly Lunar. Since she is, after all, a Shell. Cress is not like Cinder who is determined to do something, and rather spontaneous, or like Scarlet who’s a little firecracker, as hot as her hair, and more than ready to spit in the face of adversity even if it hurts, than to give in if she can help it. Cress is a softy. She’s shy and a scaredy cat. She also, has a wild imagination. It’s this Imagination of hers that gets her through the toughest of moments. And also, makes her mistake some things.
“Do you think it was destiny that brought us together?”
He squinted and, after a thoughtful moment, shook his head. “No. I’m pretty sure it was Cinder.”
Thorne. Oh Thorne. We meet Thorne in Scarlet and he’s isn’t really the world’s most enthusiastic companion when travelling with Cinder, but he’s moderately helpful. But of course, we don’t see much of him until Cress. He’s a much more complex character than he seems, and he’s not like the angst or broody kind either, which thankfully is perfect. He’s actually a really good guy. Arrogant, but not bad over all. Charming, hell yes. Sarcastic, absolutely. Loved him. Love him with Cress, even though the end of the book doesn’t really give us a full resolution on Cress and Thorne, but I liked that! Since they just kind of met after all, and it doesn’t matter that they’ve passed through the whole book together, what I loved is that Cress has just the perfect amount of sweetness to balance Thorne’s arrogant, charming, sarcastic ways. It just makes me go awww.
“It’s beautiful out there.”
A hesitation, before, “Could you be more specific?”
“The sky is gorgeous, intense blue color.” She pressed her fingers to the glass and traced the wavy hills on the horizon.
“Oh, good. You’ve really narrowed it down for me.”
“I’m sorry, it’s just…” She tried to stamp down the rush of emotion. “I think we’re in a desert.”
“Cactuses and tumbleweeds?”
“No just a lot of sand. It’s kind of orangish-gold, with hints of pink, and I can see tiny clouds of it floating above the ground, like…like smoke.”
“Piles up in lots of hills?”
“Yes, exactly! And it’s beautiful.”
Thorne snorted. “If this is how you feel about a desert, I can’t wait until you see your first real tree. Your mind will explode.”
Winter. Oh my, Winter. First, I loveeee that she has dark skin and beautiful. I love that she’s a little nuts from Lunar sickness. She is, in her own somewhat twisted way, adorable. Her sickness from the lack of bioelectric manipulation, is the kind that gives her hallucinations and sends her mind faraway. She mutters a lot and says a lot of random things that of course make her look crazy. But at the centre of her heart, Winter is a sweet girl who is also quite intelligent and more than happy to help her long lost cousin and others.
“They are going to laugh at you and mock you and then they are going to—”
“Eat me.Yes. I understand.”
“You don’t seem to be grasping the meaning behind the words. This isn’t a metaphor. I’m talking about huge teeth and digestive systems.”
“Fat and bones and marrow and meat,” Winter sang. “We only wanted a snack to eat.”
Scarlet grunted. “You can be so disturbing.”
Jacin is a bit of jerk in Cress but he grew on me in Winter. Seeing him interact with Winter, it was really endearing. He really cares about her, and would do anything to protect her, and also, members of his family. He is the huntsman by the way, that you often see in the Snow White story, and Levana is her stepmother. But he doesn’t really top my list, and I wish I got more of an insight into his character. Between the action and the romance and the revolution, there wasn’t much time for developing Jacin.
Jacin said nothing else. Neither did she. After the first ring was completed, she leaned her head against his thigh, making herself more comfortable as she picked out a sunburst orange. Overhead, Jacin sighed, and she felt the faintest brush of fingertips against her hair. A hint, a suggestion of togetherness, before he became a statue once more.
And I must give an honourable mention to Iko! Who is part of the main cast, and is an android! My favourite supporting character is Iko! An android with some faulty personality. If R2D2 could talk, I bet he’d be like that haha. But again, they’re incomparable, and I did love Iko so much. She’s sarcastic and very human for an android, which makes her such a wonderful addition to the cast.
“My point is that I am going to figure this out, like I always do. First, we’re going to find a way to get into Artemisia. We’re going to find Cress and rescue Cinder and Wolf. We’re going to overthrow Levana, and by the stars above, we are going to make Cinder a queen so she can pay us a lot of money from her royal coffers and we can all retire very rich and very alive, got it?”
Winter started to clap. “Brilliant speech. Such gumption and bravado.”
“And yet strangely lacking in any sort of actual strategy,” said Scarlet.
“Oh, good, I’m glad you noticed that too,” said Iko. “I was worried my processor might be glitching.”
And Lastly, Queen Levana of Luna is the Antagonist of the whole series, and she is quite cruel!! However, in the main series, I feel like she was very 2D, and could have done with a bit more developing. BUT!! I haven’t read the novellas, or the short story–in particular Fairest yet, so I can’t comment!!
Other supporting characters: Torin is a great advisor to Kai, Dr Erland was a bit nutty but good and true in the end, Thaumaturge Sybil so glad she got what she deserved, and there are so many other great and wonderful side characters! I can’t list them all, but read this series and you’ll surely agree!
S E T T I N G
Set in New Beijing, a futuristic city that’s the centre of the Eastern Commonwealth, developed after World War 4 (or something like that). You get the point. It’s a sci-fi futuristic story. There are cyborgs people living on the Moon which is referred to as Luna, and the inhabitants, Lunars who possessed bio-electric manipulation abilities.
Some things that bug me about the setting, is a) the lack of description on what the characters look like and also the development of human evolution. Four world wars, how many years have really passed before the fourth war (I know there has been 126 years after the fourth war or so), and what do the Earthens look like? Blended races? See for me, Kai had a distinct Asian look (hooray Asians!) but Cinder was more blurred (I would love it more if she was Asian-looking) since her ancestry is not as clear cut either. That’s the first thing. B) I am a linguist, someone who studies language, and I hate it so, so, so, so, so, so, so, much that the language aspect has been glossed over!!! Why? Tell me why? YES Meyer includes the kinship terms that are common and necessary in Chinese when referring to one another, but that’s it. It’s very simple. TOO SIMPLE. And I want to rage about it! But I won’t. Because after all, I’ve only ever found ONE futuristic/post-apocalyptic/sci-fi series that really develops the linguistic side of things in a believable way.
I do feel that the labelling of the political divisions bugs me a lot. I still can’t get the term ‘Eastern Commonwealth’ through my head. I mean logically it’s correct, but it just doesn’t sound right. I mean, really, Commonwealth is obviously commonly associated with the British Empire. And Britain and things like China/other Asian countries don’t really mesh well in my head. Then again, has Meyer mentioned who is part of the Eastern Commonwealth? I’d love to know.
Anyway, enough of me picking at the world a bit more—I’m sorry, I can’t help it, it reminds me so much of the world of the Selection which I didn’t really like at all, and at least the world of the Lunar Chronicles is a little bit better. Other than those three points, I do find that I like the set up of the series a lot. There’s something very unique about it. And Meyer did a good job developing it. Sticking us in a world where cyborgs are considered worse than the worst human criminals, and everyone is terrified of Lunars, and there’s a plague killing everyone too.
W R I T I N G
Good. I like her writing. It doesn’t overly delve into emotion, but there is enough to make you feel for each character. She has written in 3rd person, and the story alternates among a number of perspectives. I like her style, simply because she makes the whole story very exciting! But I think her dialogues should be praised. I love reading those! So sarcastic and witty. And really highlight the various personalities of the characters.
O V E R A L L
I picked up Scarlet straight after Cinder. I think if you’re the kind of reader who likes action, fantasy, bit of romance, and enough plot twists to keep you going, pick this up. Like now. If you like characters with really intense emotions and determination, then pick this up. Immediately! If you like worlds of not too complicated sci-fi. You got it. You know the drill. Pick this up. I picked this up because it was recommended. While I didn’t love some things, there was enough of this book, enough justification in the ending to make me want to pick up the next.
Scarlet ended up with such a big bang, even bigger than the first book, and I was blown away. So blown away I didn’t hesitate to pick up Cress, which when I was reading it, I wondered if the sun in Aus was causing me to melt, or if it was the book lol.
By the way, if you didn’t really like Throne of Glass as a High Fantasy YA series, then don’t give up yet! Try the Lunar Chronicles. This, actually, might be one of a few which I would actually recommend and suggest as a science fiction, high fantasy YA read. It just has all the elements(only at a YA level) of an adult equivalent. Action, a bit of romance, intense epic plot about an evil queen and the girl who will defeat her.
M Y R E V I E W S O N G O O D R E A D S